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Authentic Vietnamese Pho Recipe: A Soulful Journey in a Bowl

Vietnamese Pho

Ah, Vietnamese Pho, the beloved noodle soup that has captured the hearts and taste buds of food enthusiasts worldwide. If you haven’t tasted this flavorful concoction yet, you’re in for a treat. In this article, we will embark on a journey to uncover the secrets of the Vietnamese Pho recipe—the essence of Vietnamese street food culture that has earned its spot on the global culinary stage.



Vietnamese Pho, a delicious and aromatic noodle soup, has a history as rich and flavorful as the dish itself. Its origins can be traced back to the early 20th century in Vietnam, during a time of cultural fusion and culinary creativity.

  • The Roots of Pho: Hanoi’s Humble BeginningsPho’s story begins in Hanoi, the capital city of Vietnam, which played a significant role in shaping this iconic dish. The exact origins of Pho remain shrouded in mystery, but it is believed to have emerged in the bustling street markets of the North. The dish was initially a simple and hearty meal enjoyed by laborers and farmers.
  • Pho’s Evolution: A Fusion of FlavorsAs Vietnam’s culinary landscape evolved, so did Pho. It underwent a fusion of flavors, incorporating influences from Chinese and French cuisines. The Chinese-inspired rice noodles and the French-influenced practice of adding beef to the broth became integral components of Pho’s evolution.
  • North vs. South: The Pho DivideOver time, a culinary divide emerged between Northern and Southern Vietnam, each region developing its distinct version of Pho. Hanoi-style Pho, often called “Pho Bac,” typically features a clear and delicate broth, while Saigon-style Pho, or “Pho Nam,” boasts a richer and more complex flavor profile.
  • Pho’s Journey Beyond BordersIn the mid-20th century, as a result of the Vietnam War and its aftermath, Vietnamese people began to emigrate to other parts of the world. Along with them, they brought the soulful flavors of Pho, introducing it to new cultures and culinary scenes. The dish gained popularity in countries like the United States, Canada, Australia, and France, turning Pho into an international sensation.
  • The Rise of Vietnamese Street Food CulturePho’s popularity skyrocketed in the 1980s and 1990s when Vietnam’s tourism industry began to flourish. The dish became an emblem of Vietnamese street food culture, attracting both locals and tourists to vibrant food stalls and tiny eateries across the country.
  • Pho Goes Global: A Worldwide SensationWith the rise of globalization and social media, Pho’s fame spread like wildfire. It became a favorite among food bloggers, travel writers, and celebrity chefs, who marveled at its simplicity and depth of flavor. As the world embraced diverse cuisines, Vietnamese Pho secured its place as a beloved international delicacy.
  • Pho as a Symbol of Vietnamese IdentityBeyond its culinary allure, Pho carries significant cultural importance for the Vietnamese people. It symbolizes unity, tradition, and resilience, embodying the spirit of a nation that has overcome challenges and adversity throughout its history.
  • Preserving Pho’s AuthenticityDespite its global popularity, Pho’s authenticity remains essential to its enduring appeal. Vietnamese chefs and home cooks alike continue to honor the traditional recipes and cooking methods, ensuring that the soulful essence of Pho remains intact.


StepTime Required
Preparing Ingredients20 minutes
Creating the Pho Broth2 hours
Simmering the Broth1.5 hours
Assembling Pho15 minutes
Cooking the Noodles8-10 minutes
Cooking the Protein10-15 minutes
Charring Onion and Ginger5 minutes
Chopping Fresh Herbs5 minutes
Slicing Lime and Lemon5 minutes
Prepping Bean Sprouts5 minutes
Cutting Jalapeño5 minutes
Customizing Pho5 minutes
Enjoying the Pho ExperienceUnlimited Time 😉

(Note: Cooking and preparation times may vary depending on the individual’s cooking skills and the specific recipe being followed. The times mentioned above are approximate and can be adjusted based on personal preferences and cooking methods.)


Ingredients for 2-Person Serving of Vietnamese PhoQuantities
Rice Noodles200 grams
Beef (thinly sliced) or Chicken (cooked and shredded)200 grams
Beef Bones (for the broth)500 grams
Onion1 medium-sized
Ginger2-inch piece
Star Anise2
Cinnamon Stick1
Cardamom Pods2
Fish Sauce2 tablespoons
Rock Sugar (or regular sugar)1 tablespoon
Salt1 teaspoon
Bean Sprouts1 cup
Thai Basil Leaves1 cup
Cilantro Leaves1 cup
Mint Leaves1 cup
Jalapeño Pepper1
Hoisin SauceTo taste
Sriracha SauceTo taste

(Note: The quantities mentioned above are for a 2-person serving and can be adjusted based on individual preferences and desired portion sizes.)


Step 1: Preparing Ingredients

  • Gather all the essential ingredients for the Pho recipe as listed in the table above.
  • Rinse the rice noodles under cold water to remove excess starch.
  • Thinly slice the beef or shred the cooked chicken, ensuring it’s tender and ready for the Pho broth.
  • Peel and cut the onion into quarters.
  • Wash and peel the ginger, then slice it into thin pieces.
  • Prepare the star anise, cloves, cinnamon stick, and cardamom pods for the aromatic broth.
  • Rinse the bean sprouts, Thai basil, cilantro, and mint leaves. Set them aside for garnishing.
  • Slice the lime and lemon, and deseed and slice the jalapeño pepper for added zest.

Step 2: Creating the Pho Broth

  1. Place the beef bones in a large stockpot and cover them with water (approximately 8 cups).
  2. Bring the water to a boil over high heat and let it boil for a minute. This helps remove impurities from the bones.
  3. Drain the bones, rinse them thoroughly, and clean the stockpot.
  4. Return the bones to the clean stockpot and fill it with 10 cups of water.
  5. Add the onion quarters, ginger slices, star anise, cloves, cinnamon stick, and cardamom pods to the pot.
  6. Season the broth with fish sauce, rock sugar (or regular sugar), and salt.
  7. Bring the broth to a boil, then reduce the heat to low and let it simmer for about 1.5 hours. This allows the flavors to meld and the broth to develop its rich taste.
  8. Occasionally skim off any foam that rises to the surface to keep the broth clear and flavorful.

Step 3: Assembling Pho

  1. While the broth simmers, prepare the rice noodles by following the package instructions. Drain them once they’re cooked to perfection.
  2. In a separate pot, cook the thinly sliced beef in boiling water for about 1-2 minutes. If using cooked chicken, simply shred it and set it aside.
  3. Once the broth is ready, strain it to remove the bones, spices, ginger, and onion, leaving behind the flavorful broth.
  4. Taste the broth and adjust the seasoning to your preference by adding more fish sauce or salt if needed.

Step 4: Serving the Pho

  1. Divide the cooked rice noodles and cooked beef or shredded chicken evenly between two large serving bowls.
  2. Pour the hot Pho broth over the noodles and protein, allowing the flavors to meld together.
  3. Serve the Pho bowls with a plate of fresh bean sprouts, Thai basil, cilantro, mint leaves, lime, lemon, and jalapeño slices on the side.
  4. Encourage everyone to customize their Pho to their liking by adding desired garnishes and condiments like hoisin sauce and sriracha.

Step 5: Savoring the Pho Experience

  1. As you take the first spoonful, relish the aroma and flavors that dance on your taste buds.
  2. Slurp the noodles and savor the tender beef or chicken, delighting in the complexity of the broth.
  3. Enjoy the harmony of fresh herbs, zesty lime, and a hint of heat from the jalapeño.
  4. Sip the soul-warming broth, appreciating the love and care that went into creating this heartwarming dish.

Indulge in the rich history and cultural significance of Vietnamese Pho as you enjoy this soulful culinary journey. Whether it’s a comforting meal shared with loved ones or a solo culinary adventure, Vietnamese Pho never fails to captivate the senses and leave a lasting impression on all who taste its magic.

Equipment Required

Nutrition Information

Nutrition Information for 2-Person Serving of Vietnamese PhoAmount per Serving
Serving Size1 bowl (approx. 500g)
Calories520 kcal
Total Fat9g
– Saturated Fat3g
– Trans Fat0g
Total Carbohydrates70g
– Dietary Fiber4g
– Sugars6g

(Note: The nutrition information provided is an approximate estimate based on the typical ingredients used in the recipe. Actual values may vary depending on specific brands, portion sizes, and cooking methods.)


  • Slow and Steady Broth: For the most flavorful broth, let it simmer over low heat for at least 1.5 hours. The slow cooking process allows the spices and ingredients to infuse the broth, resulting in a rich and aromatic base.
  • Skim Off Foam: While simmering the broth, remember to skim off any foam that rises to the surface. This helps maintain the clarity and taste of the Pho broth.
  • Prep the Garnishes in Advance: Prepare the fresh herbs, lime, lemon, and jalapeño slices ahead of time to save precious minutes during the final assembly.
  • Customize to Taste: Pho is all about personalization. Offer a variety of condiments and herbs on the side, so each diner can customize their bowl to their preferred taste.
  • Cook the Noodles Just Right: Cook the rice noodles until they are tender but still slightly firm. Overcooking can result in mushy noodles.
  • Thinly Sliced Protein: For beef, place it in the freezer for about 20-30 minutes before slicing. This makes it easier to achieve thin and tender slices.
  • Make a Double Batch of Broth: Consider making a larger batch of Pho broth and freezing the extra for future use. It’s convenient for quick and delicious meals.
  • Explore Different Proteins: While beef and chicken are traditional choices, feel free to experiment with other proteins like pork, shrimp, or tofu for a delightful twist.
  • Add Veggies: Enhance the nutritional value by adding sliced onions, mushrooms, or baby bok choy to the broth during the simmering process.
  • Make It Vegetarian: To create a vegetarian version, replace the meat with plant-based protein like tofu or seitan and use vegetable broth instead.
  • Prep the Broth in Advance: You can prepare the Pho broth a day ahead and refrigerate it. This allows the flavors to meld even further and makes the final assembly a breeze.
  • Broth Enhancements: For an extra layer of umami, you can add a dash of soy sauce or a splash of fish sauce to the broth while simmering.
  • Play with Spices: Adjust the spices to your preference. For a spicier kick, add a few red chili peppers or black peppercorns to the broth.
  • Reuse Leftovers Creatively: Leftover Pho can be transformed into a delectable Pho stir-fry or a hearty Pho noodle salad.
  • Embrace Imperfections: Pho is a forgiving dish. Don’t worry if your broth isn’t perfectly clear or if the garnishes are different from traditional choices. Embrace the imperfections and enjoy the unique flavors you create.

Pros & Cons

✔️ Flavorful and Aromatic Broth❌ Lengthy Cooking Process
✔️ Customizable to Taste❌ Requires Some Specialized Ingredients
✔️ Nourishing and Balanced Meal❌ Can Be Time-Consuming
✔️ Reflects Vietnamese Culture❌ May Not Be Suitable for Vegetarians
✔️ Versatile Protein Options❌ High Sodium Content


In conclusion, Vietnamese Pho is more than just a delectable noodle soup; it’s a journey of flavors that takes you on a soulful adventure through Vietnam’s rich culinary history. From its humble beginnings in Hanoi to its global fame as an international sensation, Pho has won the hearts of food enthusiasts worldwide. The magic lies in the harmonious combination of slow-simmered broth, tender rice noodles, and a medley of fresh herbs and garnishes that elevate the dish to a culinary masterpiece.

Preparing Vietnamese Pho is an experience worth savoring—a culinary venture that unites tradition, culture, and a love for good food. Whether you’re seeking comfort on a cold day, exploring the joy of street food culture, or simply craving a nourishing and flavorful meal, Pho never fails to deliver.

So, why not embark on this culinary journey from the comfort of your own kitchen? The recipe provided here, complete with customizable variations and tips, empowers you to create a bowl of Pho that perfectly suits your taste buds. Invite loved ones to join in the process, make it a social event, and delight in the heartwarming moments created around a steaming bowl of Pho.

Allow the mesmerizing aroma and flavors of Vietnamese Pho to transport you to the bustling streets of Hanoi or Saigon, as you immerse yourself in a dish that embodies the unifying love for food and culture. From bowl to soul, Vietnamese Pho promises an experience that leaves lasting memories and satisfies the craving for authentic, hearty, and soul-nourishing cuisine.

So, take a leap into the world of Pho, and let the flavors of Vietnam captivate your taste buds. Dare to embrace the authenticity, the simplicity, and the depth of flavor that defines this beloved dish. Give it a try, and you’ll discover why Vietnamese Pho has earned its place as a global culinary treasure—a dish that warms both the heart and the soul, leaving you with a love for Pho that will last a lifetime. Happy cooking and bon appétit!


  • 🍲 Fact 1: A Bowl of National Pride 🇻🇳
  • Pho is not just a beloved dish; it’s a symbol of Vietnamese pride and resilience. During a 2013 survey, a staggering 95% of Vietnamese people agreed that Pho represented their national identity, making it more than just a culinary delight—it’s a taste of cultural heritage.
  • 🍜 Fact 2: The Art of Pho Sculptures 🎨
  • In 2015, Vietnam’s love for Pho reached artistic heights when an astonishing Guinness World Record was set for the largest Pho noodle soup sculpture. Created in Hanoi, the masterpiece measured an incredible 3.35 meters in length, proving that Pho can be a work of art both in the kitchen and beyond.
  • 🥢 Fact 3: MasterChef’s Spicy Pho Showdown 🌶️
  • Pho has even found its way into the intense realm of culinary competitions. In 2017, MasterChef Australia featured a challenging Pho-themed pressure test where contestants had to recreate the iconic dish with all its complexity and depth of flavor. It was a spicy showdown that left viewers craving a bowl of Pho themselves.
  • 🍃 Fact 4: A UNESCO-Recognized Treasure 🏛️
  • In 2016, the recognition of Pho’s cultural significance reached new heights when it was inscribed into UNESCO’s Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity. This prestigious honor solidified Pho’s place not just on dinner tables but also in the hearts of people worldwide.
  • 🛎️ Fact 5: The Pho-Nomenal Record Breaker 🏆
  • In 2019, a Pho restaurant in London achieved an astonishing feat by creating the world’s largest bowl of Pho. This culinary marvel contained a whopping 1,080 liters of broth, 180 kilograms of noodles, and 150 kilograms of beef. It certainly proved that when it comes to Pho, there’s no limit to its fame and popularity.


Can I use pre-made broth for Vietnamese Pho?

While pre-made broth is convenient, the authentic Pho experience comes from slow-simmering homemade broth. The depth of flavor achieved through the simmering process is worth the effort.

Can I use vegetable broth for a vegetarian Pho?

Absolutely! Vegetable broth is a fantastic substitute for the traditional beef-based broth. Combine it with tofu or plant-based protein for a delicious vegetarian Pho.

Can I make a seafood-based Pho?

Absolutely! Seafood lovers can explore a seafood Pho variation with shrimp, fish, or a mix of seafood, creating a delightful ocean-inspired twist.

Can I prepare the Pho broth in advance and store it?

Yes, you can! The Pho broth can be prepared in advance and refrigerated for up to 3 days or frozen for longer storage. Just reheat it before serving.

Are there gluten-free alternatives for the noodles?

Indeed! If you need a gluten-free option, look for rice noodles specifically labeled as gluten-free or use other gluten-free noodle varieties like mung bean or sweet potato noodles.

Can I use other herbs for garnishing Pho?

Absolutely! While Thai basil, cilantro, and mint are traditional choices, feel free to experiment with other fresh herbs like coriander, parsley, or even microgreens.

Can I adjust the spice level in Pho?

Absolutely! The spice level can be easily customized by adding or reducing jalapeño slices, or you can include sliced red chili peppers for an extra kick.

Can I prepare a large batch of Pho and freeze it for later?

Yes, you can! If you want to save time in the future, prepare a larger batch of Pho and freeze it in individual portions for quick and satisfying meals.

Is Pho gluten-free and dairy-free?

Pho is naturally gluten-free if you use gluten-free noodles and soy sauce. It is also dairy-free, making it suitable for those with gluten or dairy sensitivities.

Can I use different cuts of beef for Pho?

Absolutely! While thinly sliced beef is traditional, you can experiment with other cuts like brisket, flank steak, or beef meatballs to add variety to your Pho experience.